January 20/21 - February 19/20
Fixed Air: Archetypal Ideas
Ruler: Saturn (co-ruler: Uranus)
Objectively: The dead of winter. Sun moves slowly, steadily north. A new light of consciousness begins to grow with the lengthening days. It illuminates life from an original perspective. Personality detaches from its social matrix.
Subjectively: The dead of night. Mind shines as a point of light in sharp contrast to the collective darkness. It achieves maximum objectivity and universality as one star in concert with a galactic community.
Aquarius: inspiration; futuristic and utopian foresight; hopes, wishes, aspirations.
Aquarius demonstrates the paradox of visibly lengthening daylight while the momentum of temperature continues to drop. It describes a cold cerebral clarity; detached intellect contemplating a pristine winter world.
In Capricorn ego represented and articulated group values through demonstrable achievement. Now, in Aquarius, individuality breaks free of tribal norms and social structure. Collective responsibility turns to individual exploration. The mind is still concerned with larger than personal issues, but does not accept tried and true methods of dealing with them. It shakes loose from traditional expectations to find its own answers and experiment with other ways of understanding. This gives it a striking originality, in genius or in madness.
Aquarius shares Capricorn's respect for the facts based on winter's harsh survival demands. But it no longer interprets them within the accepted system. It seeks a new context; sees the whole picture in a different light.
As the year enters its deepest freeze, a growing illumination presages the coming spring. One senses the potency of rebirth rising under the horizon. Aquarius reorients from past accomplishments to emerging hopes. These coalesce into a guiding inspiration. That will later manifest as personal purpose (Aries) and values (Taurus). For now it reveals a vision of things to come. This encompasses more than real life; it outlines a full spectrum of possibilities. Aquarius can see a Big Picture from an Olympian perspective precisely because it has not yet immersed in it.
Aquarius sees all things afresh, from afar. It elucidates a formula to explain this sweeping panorama and locate one's place/function in it. Aquarius sketches an identity equation, writes the psychic DNA code of a germinating worldview. It generates a new mentality to meet and make tomorrow.
Aquarius extends intellectual parameters. This expanded space will later be filled in with individual information bytes. The Aquarian experience is like learning theoretical mathematics. Its abstract discipline can then be applied to organize and make sense of actual scientific data: stellar movements, chemical reactions, biological processes, etc. Aquarius emphasizes the acquisition of a general outlook that informs understanding of specific circumstances.
Capricorn defines the mountaintop of real achievement; Aquarius suggests a soaring sky of aspiration. It gives a bird's eye view of a beckoning mindscape. To attain such a view means leaving the nest, ejecting known certainties, safe assumptions, conventional wisdom, to fly into the unknown. One may crash and burn, or veer off into strange realms of eccentricity. A successful Aquarian takeoff into the wild blue yonder presupposes a solid background of Capricornian competence, a foundation of logic to anchor its high-flying hypotheses.
Aquarius inspires breakout from a dominant paradigm to explore a developing one. But its effort to birth novel ideas is demanding and dangerous. Most hunches turn out to be half-baked (at best). Most experiments fail in their stated purpose. Sometimes they bring unexpected results. Real progress comes from accepting these surprising discoveries in lieu of preconceived opinions. The high risk, high gain Aquarian endeavor requires integrating game changing epiphanies (Uranus) with the sequential continuity of reason (Saturn).
Aquarius operates through abstract thought. It necessarily steps away from present circumstance to comprehend how it fits into a larger frame of reference. It examines all options, explores all avenues, tries on all perspectives to find the truth. This requires an experimental attitude. A willingness to embrace trial and error rather than a pledge to 'never surrender, never retreat.'
Aquarius is often idealized as a revolutionary sign of liberation. However, most revolutions end up disastrously: shattering an unjust system and releasing its pent up hatreds, but failing to bring genuine rebirth. Yet, over time, the arc of history does move towards greater opportunity, inclusiveness and respect for rights. Aquarius' impulse to change slowly realigns both personal and tribal character with elevated principles.
Aquarius channels the energy of innovation: an urge to express more advanced qualities. That drives evolution. On the biological plane it acts through genetic mutation. Most mutations are detrimental. Yet life gradually attains a more subtle sophistication because natural selection weeds out weakness. At the psychological level this happens because novel insights (Uranus) are tempered by the feedback of actual evidence (Saturn). Aquarius' impartial openness allows it to drop mistakes rather than insisting upon them as more willful or passionate signs would. It can walk away from an untenable approach because it values freedom itself, rather than any of its fruits, payoffs or results.
Aquarius' freedom does not involve an action opportunity of ego assertion (Aries), nor a creative license of self-expression (Leo), nor the social liberty under law that enables civilization (Sagittarius). Rather it describes a mental autonomy that can amplify subtle whispers of intuition into clear concepts that can be shared with others. It transmits the teleological (goal oriented) attraction of a more evolved state as a message from the future. Aquarius redefines the world in the light of an inspiration.
Aquarius portrays the 'Eureka!' moment of life seen through new eyes. It can leap to a higher state of consciousness. Or be blinded by its intensity, like a deer caught in the headlights. Aquarius transforms a basic orientation. Or becomes lost in space.
Aquarius' sense of independence enables navigation through these disorienting jumps. Its cool reason entertains more inputs and possibilities than the heat of passion allows. Aquarius is freer than any other sign to explore exciting ideas. It can also be the most untethered to common sense. It is the most prone to original insight, and to overt insanity.
Aquarius emphasizes cause over effect. It cares more about the fundamental energies driving action than the ephemeral events resulting from it. Why is as important as what. Of course the two cannot be entirely separated, but Aquarius prioritizes dynamics above outcomes, focuses on process v product.
Aquarius sublimates, perceiving the ethereal essence of things rather than their tactile reality. It pays more attention to becoming than being. It is interested in where things are going v what they are here and now. It looks to an open future over a committed present.
Aquarius realizes all that can be achieved under an old dispensation already has been (Capricorn). The only way forward is to set another agenda with different operating procedures. Any function (planet) in Aquarius has entered a prerevolutionary state of tension, primed for a revelation. Or has already begun to transform itself and its environment. This means carrying a stronger energy charge than previously. If it cannot do so then it blows a fuse and disintegrates into mental illness.
Aquarius is the most idealistic sign, not out of naiveté but as its own form of wisdom. It sees implicit potentials that remain invisible to more pragmatic minds. However, it can exaggerate these emergent properties. Aquarius must balance visionary genius with practical sense. Its revelatory shock can zap one with an instant of enlightenment changing a life, a worldview, perhaps even the world itself. Or its supercharged theories can fry the brain circuits. It then falls prey to a mesmerizing obsession like a moth drawn into the flame.
Aquarius illuminates head over heart. Its pleasures are those of understanding rather than of power or sensuality. It lives on the cerebral plane with a unique degree of abstraction in all things, for better and for worse.1 This perspective promotes a disembodied form of knowledge. Thus it tends to misinterpret living biology as a complex chemical code, consciousness as an electrical brain wave pattern, political passions as a polling algorithm. It often misses real trees for the ecological concept of a forest.
Aquarius challenges an accepted social contract and revises a sense of community. It estranges from the prevailing consensus, shatters group solidarity with disturbing stimulation. This can be an objective observation or a bizarre overemphasis. Aquarius tends to alienate normal feeling bonds by insisting on disruptive truth, or opinion, over comforting convention. One either changes social mores or breaks away from them.
Aquarius' rationality does not fully encompass the feeling side of things. Its clear intelligence can be insensitive to emotional nuance. Aquarius loves as fully as any sign - but its altruistic, impersonally benevolent heart beats to the tune of a different drummer. It resonates to a chord of mutual idealism; seeks high minded companionship in an elevated cause or consciousness, free association in a shared interest, fellowship in co-operative participation. It emphasizes agape: selfless, all-embracing, unconditional love more than eros: a romantically exclusive '… desire for psychic relatedness,'2 or compelling sensual attraction.
Aquarius takes a genuine interest in, rather than fervently identifies with, the other. It wants to taste the sugar, not become sugar.3 It seeks to liberate rather than possess the beloved. It is turned on by the independent nature of a soul mate. And enhanced by empathy for all other souls, brief sparkles of a higher dimension behind the provisional forms of separation:
'They are not brethren, they are not underlings; they are other nations caught with ourselves in the net of time and life, fellow prisoners of the splendor and travail of the earth.'4
As a night dominated sign Aquarius describes an attunement to the collective unconscious. This, having fulfilled a cycle of attainment in Capricorn, opens to a more inclusive dream. That dream is utopian, communal rather than private. It is not about ambition or ego satisfaction. It points to self-identification with a universal value: truth, justice, beauty. An ideal. Or an ideology.
Aquarius describes a mental map distilling the complexities of evidence into an explanatory theory. Things are seen not for themselves, nor in relationship to each other, but as exemplars of general qualities. Aquarius is not about information (Gemini) or a balance of forces (Libra). Rather it seeks the fundamental principles behind changing phenomena. It integrates a swirling mass of data into a coherent paradigm. This is not a Sagittarian ethical imperative but a great Idea. For example, E = MC2 describes an objective law, not a moral meaning.
Paradigms shift. Aquarius demonstrates the process of phase-change wherein a solid situation becomes fluid, or vice versa. Water turns to ice or to steam. Frozen facts melt or cloudy wishes condense into a flowing current, the electric 'juice' of inspiration. Aquarius describes a tipping point where a worldview, with all of its assumptions, suddenly morphs into another reality. It leaves the past behind. There can be no encore to the epic achievements of Capricorn. Instead it embraces other truth criteria and a changed mission.
One can't only do the same thing better and better. Aquarius demands taking a chance on something else. It portrays that quantum jump, with all of its opportunities and dangers. It creates a field of acceleration where quantitative increase becomes qualitative transformation. A prepubescent boy or girl doesn't just keep growing. All of a sudden hormones kick in and everything changes. Aquarius' winds of change blow in an entirely different climate. That creates a crisis of adaptation. It reconfigures consciousness to learn and live another way.
Aquarius applies archetypal principles to particular events. Archetypes symbolize instinctual and intuitive energies. They are more than thoughts in they have an evocative dimension along with a definable content. They represent the intangible, with one pole grounded in tangibility. Archetypes point to ineffable but immediately apparent mega-concepts: death, love, God, etc.
Aquarius perceives truth as Platonic ideals applied to concrete circumstance. It seeks to express personality as an individual example of universal standards. It gives voice to a vision, reveals the human face of a more angelic order. It acts as an emissary from a better future, an experimental version of a superior humanity. Or of their nightmare negatives in the devil-ution of a dystopian dream: a perversion of programmed existence, the robotic face of an artificial intelligence.
Aquarius does not describe an autonomous ego. (That births in Aries.) Rather it articulates an emerging state of consciousness. It reinvents self, not as an upgraded ego but as a new type of individual. Capricorn embodies the highest values of the present social hierarchy. Aquarius announces a coming society with a different persona.
Aquarius insists on mind over matter. It seeks a spiritual pattern behind the fleshy personality. It does not heal or enhance an existing state of being (Virgo). Rather it draws a given identity towards closer approximation of its model prototype; evokes emulation of its more advanced nature and possibilities. The beauty of ideas drives behavior at least as much as the force of facts.
The eleventh house, Aquarius' subjective correlate, and any planets in it, describes the nature of one's hopes, wishes, aspirations. And of their social and spiritual agenda. The house cusp that the sign of Aquarius occupies indicates the area of life in which these play out. The position and aspects of Aquarius' ruling planet, Saturn, describe the logic and discipline that implements them. Aquarius' transpersonal ruler, Uranus, reveals the impact this reforming impulse has, on the world or in the self.
Aquarius precipitates invisible potentials into communicable ideas. Spirit's exhalation into mind. It projects a mental force field, an image of self.5 This then condenses into an overall sensitivity (Pisces), which in turn emanates the will (Aries) and desire (Taurus) bodies.
Aquarius' energy zone connects plan and manifestation. It does so through a blueprint linking archetypal energies with living entities. It directs psycho-spiritual voltage from the constraints of what is to an intuition of what could be. Aquarius points to the future. That exists only as an idea. Yet it orients action, directs effort, sparks motivation in the here and now. Aquarius opens existence to innovation. Promotes improvement. Its challenge lies in actualizing this grand design.
1. Astrology itself is an Aquarian discipline. It can liberate by providing insight into the organizing principles behind character and behavior. One begins to understand personality with some objectivity by distilling a few basic motivations/orientations out from a confusing web of effects. Or it can oversimplify living psychology into a spectral equation of forces, reducing the complexity and ambiguity of human nature to a fated formula. Like anything else of value it can degenerate into a dogma. The resolution lies in Aquarius' own property of intuitive openness: an acknowledgment that the latent potentials implicit in a planetary pattern can only emerge through conscious choice in real life.
2. Jung: 'Aspects of the Feminine.' Plato called eros '…a desire to possess, but nevertheless it is different from a purely sensual love in being the love that tends towards the sublime.' (Symposium 200-1) In modern parlance 'eros' has been reduced to physical sexuality.
3. Paraphrased from Sri Ramakrishna, Bengali mystic and yogi, 1836-1886
4.'The Outermost House,' by Henry Beston, American writer and naturalist, 1888-1968. This passage refers to other sentient souls of the living kingdoms around us.
5. Aquarius symbolizes the etheric body, an electronic template organizing DNA based proteins into a biological vehicle. Medical practices such as acupuncture realign these bioelectric currents when they go awry. Brain and heart scans diagnose physical conditions through their magnetic auras. In the upcoming Age of Aquarius such electrical therapies will increasingly displace chemical and surgical ones based on an understanding that physical processes follow etheric patterns.